Richard Dagenais from Global News interviews Leslie Acs, Executive Director of La Passerelle.
Richard: This is Leslie Acs, he is executive director of La Passerelle and La Passerelle helps mature jobseekers deal with the challenges that are out there. What are some of those challenges?
Leslie: Well for mature workers, when I say more and more of what we’re seeing is that mature workers come to our workshops and say I’ve never even had to write a resume. I haven’t written a resume and I’ve never had to do an interview. So, and they don’t understand the process.
Richard: So it right from the very beginning of the process.
Leslie: Right yeah yeah. So typically, what we see our participants do, or most people do, is they start applying. They start applying online, which is about the worst thing to do because, well you should apply online, but you should have been doing many other things. You start applying online and what we’ve seen in the process is that they’ll apply online and then they don’t have any feedback. So, they don’t know why they’re not getting called in and then doubts cut starts to cast them. So, you start having self-doubt and they keep applying and nobody’s returning their calls and you’re wondering, well, how come. So, the self-doubt starts to become more and more concrete.
So, what’s happening is that you’re alone and you don’t have any feedback, so you start thinking well maybe I don’t have what it takes and then maybe I am too old. But since there’s nothing to stop the process, this gets more and more concrete, and people get discouraged and depressed. And then I guess the next step is – if I can’t get this job, how about I go and apply on something that I’m overqualified for. And the same results, because if you’re overqualified, people don’t want to hire you because they’ll start worrying why.
Richard: That sounds like it would be very discouraging and demoralizing for people.
Leslie: Absolutely. And especially there’s no context, no feedback, and then there’s that whole pride factor. So mature workers, with mature people there’s more sense of pride that I’ve seen, so they don’t want to go out and get help. So usually, it’s at the last minute that they come and see us, which is almost too late. So..
Richard: Why would it be too late? Because psychologically they’re defeated?
Leslie: Well, financially, but also psychologically. When this starts taking root and you start losing your self-confidence, it’s hard to look for a job. You have no self-confidence and by the time you get into an interview, it’s even worse. Like, how do you project yourself when there’s no self-confidence?
Richard: So, what do you find is going wrong when they’re sitting at home and sending out in applications and never hearing anything, getting no response?
Leslie: We don’t know the process, and if we understand what’s going on, it makes it easier for us to say oh okay. Because when you’re applying online, you’re actually competing for a small percentage of the jobs, about twenty to thirty percent of jobs are posted, the rest are filled through references, through networking. So, if you don’t know this, most people are competing for a small percentage of the jobs. It’s not even you, it’s your resume. So, your resume is competing against other resumes, we don’t realize that. So, you don’t get called back.
Richard: So, now you make it sound like that an obvious step one is to perfect the resume.
Leslie: Work on your resume. I would say spend more time on your achievements then you spend on your responsibilities. Cause a lot of times we’ll see responsibilities, like a page or two. It doesn’t give context. How good are you? How well did you do this? What were your accomplishments? What was the value added?
So, spend time on your resume, going though every job and professional and personal accomplishments. What did I do well? What were my accomplishments? And that starts the process – I go that’s true, I did all these things. So, it starts to defeat this negative cycle. Talk to friends, talk to pass colleagues. So what did I do well? What did you appreciate about working with me? So, you can inject that into your resume. Put a bit more personality, less technical. That’s starting the process.
Richard: Sounds like a good message for the people who are looking for jobs. Would you have a message for the employers out there?
Leslie: Absolutely! I mean, don’t dismiss mature workers. I mean mature workers – a lot of times they’ll say you know, they’re older and all the stereotypes of mature workers – they don’t know technology – it’s hard to teach them how to do new things.
But I tell you, we see very motivated people in our workshop. And a lot of times, in our workshops, they’ll do a career transition. So now, it’s like they’re starting something new, it’s exciting and the reality is, if you haven’t been working for a while, months or so, and you’re a mature worker, there’s a lot of motivation. You don’t want to end up in that situation again. So, you have an extremely motivated talented pool. We have people that want to work and they can’t find jobs so ..that’s kind of why we’re here.
There are so many things … Network, talk to people, get out there and don’t be home alone. Emploi Québec has an entire network of service providers like ourselves. Go on the Emploi Québec website, find your local employment center. Try to talk to an agent and have them refer you to an employment service provider. CEDEC, the Community Economic Development and Employability Corporation, they have a mature workers initiative. They’re trying to get the message out to employers that – look these are the advantages of a diversified workforce. So, there’s advantages of having mature workers and youth. And other employment service providers like YES, Youth Employment Services, they tackle the same issues but fore a younger group and then there’s us.
Richard: LaPasserelle.ca, Leslie Acs executive director. Thank you very much for speaking with us this morning.
Leslie: Thanks, Richard.
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